Jul 7

Consonant Clusters 11 - "Spr-"

Consonant Clusters 11 "Spr-"


Like sp- and spl-, the cluster spr- can be used to describe a liquid that emanates from one point and ends up in another. However, the key element of the spr- cluster is the lateral spread involved.

Spr- liquids spray or spring from their source to cover a wider area. When...

Jun 30

Consonant Clusters 10 - "Spl-"

Consonant Clusters 10 "Spl-" 

Spl- is a cluster which is wonderful in its expressiveness. The combination of sibilant /s/ with plosive /p/ and lateral /l/ moulds the mouth into a gloriously splenetic splutter of sound, with the mouth and lips working splendidly in tandem.

Spl- clearly has a link to the sp- cluster and its spurting liquids...

Jun 25

English Proverbs and Idioms 1

English Proverbs and Idioms


Complete the quiz to find some of the most colourful English proverbs and idioms.

(Hover your mouse over the  symbol to reveal the answers- tap on mobile devices).


1. What is the best way to a man’s heart for aspiring girlfriends? 

a) through his stomach   

b) via his circulatory system   

c) through his...

May 15

Left or Right? Are we right behind you, or are you feeling left out?

Left or Right? Are we right behind you, or do you feel left out?

Like many others, the English language has a preference towards right-handed people and a prejudice against the left-handed in its vocabulary.

This dates back a long way, as the words we have for what is right – that is, morally correct as opposed to what is sinister and gauche have been in the language for centuries. In Old English, the word riht meant right and...

Apr 14

Consonant Clusters 9 - "Sp-"

Consonant Clusters 9: "Sp-"


Sp- spits out at us and spurts across the page. It explodes outwards as is suggested by the bilabial plosive /p/, which expels the cluster with force out of our mouths.

A second meaning of the sp- cluster is that of spikiness: we have sharp chips of wood, metal and plants in spars, spurs and even spoons.

The ancient art of spinning provides a link between these two meanings. An early meaning of spin was “shoot...

Mar 16

Consonant Clusters 8- "Cl-"

Consonant Clusters 8 – "Cl-"


Cl- as a consonant cluster is often associated with connection, the idea of clasping or clamping two or more things together, so that they clot, clump or club together.

Separate, but probably related, roots for the concepts of sticking, holding on, clustering and fastening have led us to have a vast array of cl- words in...

Feb 20

Compound Adjectives & Parts of the Body

Compound Adjectives and Parts of the Body 

Upper-intermediate - Advanced

English shows its flexibility in the way it has adapted and combined the nouns for parts of the body to become other parts of speech. 

The word “back” for example is now a verb meaning “to support” and is used in a number of compound adjectives, such as straight-backed, crook-backed and broad-backed. 


Jan 8

Latin Roots 1: Duco, Ducere, Duxi, Ductum

Latin Roots 1: Duco, Ducere, Duxi, Ductum – to Lead, Guide



The Latin verb ducere (to lead) and its different forms have led to an astonishing number of words in English. By the addition of various prefixes and suffixes, this form has created a large number of some of the most familiar words in the language.

Firstly, we have several nouns...

Jan 5

Consonant Clusters 7- "Gl-"

Consonant Clusters 7: Gl-


Wise old heads tell us “all that glitters is not gold”. Yet it is true to say that very many words that begin with gl- will indeed glitter, glimmer or glisten and that glitter and gold derive from the same root.

There is a smoothness to gl- words: the glide of a glacier or the gleam...

Dec 3

Consonant Clusters 6 - "Sn-"

Consonant Clusters 6 "Sn-"


Sn- as a consonant cluster often has associations with the nose. In fact it is sometimes a combination of the hissing, movement of the dental sibilant /s/ and the nasal /n/, with the nose being the most important of the two. In fact, it is very difficult to say /snӘwithout moving your...